Yoga Shaming. Yeah, how about we stop that.
Every day when I log onto social media I am hit with with a slew of political articles, news clips, puppy videos (love those), and lately lots of yoga police posts. Posts that slam other types and styles of yoga as inauthentic and "wrong". I even read the word "bastardization" as an adjective for people just doing their thing in this world. In another post (that was liked and shared), another well known teacher ridiculed those who have the audacity to play music in their classes. Still another condemned the posting of yoga pictures in general. Why? What is with all the negativity? Why is there such a need to post something that shames other yogis.? Why do these people feel entitled to do that?
The first rule of yoga is not handstand. (obvi that is the second, jk! ) The first rule is ahimsa. Ahimsa is often described as non-violence and is interpreted as a way to live your life without causing harm to others. There are many ways to do no harm. Some work on their diet, some on their interactions, and for this yogi...I work on the words that come out of my mouth. Words hurt. They can cause lasting damage when thrown about haphazardly. I have never been so aware of the weight of my words as I am now that I own a yoga studio. People often quote things i have said to them in class years after I have said them. YEARS! When the responsibility of speaking with mindfulness truly sunk in, I decided that I would measure my words. I critique when I need to, but I make sure I do so with kindness. I often send out my blogs to my closest friends for screening to make sure my words don't come across as unnecessarily negative. I understand the impact. Why don't others? Perhaps they feel like they are doing the world a service by imposing their opinions in the most critical and demoralizing way. Perhaps they feel, especially the yoga teachers out there who are the worst culprits, that they are teaching? A great phrase that we use here on the east coast is "stay in your lane". What doesn't affect you, doesn't concern you. Nobody is asking for your approval, BUT with your words you could be alienating someone and ruining their day/week/year/self esteem. In short, you are harming them..intentionally. Is that feeling of being "right" worth it?
Changing the pattern is not that difficult and if you have been swept up in the middle school "mean girl" current of yoga shaming, there is a way out. Stop judging people who are just following their bliss. Live your life according to your ethical standards and you know what? People will follow your example. As you embrace that which is different than yourself, others will follow suit. Soon the world in general will have more positive energy and you will be able to be right without making sure others know they are wrong. Some of the greatest words I have ever read are:" you do not have to blow out someone else's candle so that yours can burn a little brighter". So go ahead you yogis who want to do yoga with goats, with bass thumping music, without your clothes, or with a beer in your hand. This world is big enough for all of us, and in my book you are all awesome!